05/13/12 8:47 PM ET
Dodgers' Bat Girl spreads message of hope
By AJ Cassavell / Special to MLB.com
Every season, that is, except the 2008 campaign, which she spent in hospital rooms and treatment centers fighting breast cancer.
Four years later, Nevolo-Lewis is a survivor, her cancer in remission, and she made her 2012 Dodger Stadium visit in style as the club's Honorary Bat Girl for Mother's Day.
Each Major League team selected an Honorary Bat Girl winner as a candidate who demonstrated "going to bat" in the fight against the disease.
In the four years since her cancer went into remission, Nevolo-Lewis, from Los Angeles, has done just that, continually returning to the word "hope" when asked about what Sunday meant for her.
"The first things that go through your mind are, 'Oh, my God, how bad is it?' and 'Am I going to die?'" she said. "Hope -- things like this give every person who is newly diagnosed hope."
She understands firsthand that knowing a breast cancer survivor is the best way to give off that hope to those with the disease. She knew a handful of survivors before being diagnosed, which gave her a positive outlook right away.
But hope alone doesn't cure cancer, and Nevolo-Lewis was quick to thank those who surrounded her when she went through treatment -- specifically her doctors.
"I think that the team that you have around you really makes a difference and all the caregivers you have in your life, they're the ones that really need to be honored," Nevolo-Lewis said.
One of those doctors and caregivers, Tracy Cordray of Santa Monica, Calif., was in attendance with Nevolo-Lewis on Sunday.
"She had to have chemotherapy, she had to have radiation therapy, and I was seeing her throughout," Cordray said. "Let me tell you, these women amaze me with their strength. They're an inspiration to me every single day of my life."
Cordray was invited to share the day with Nevolo-Lewis, who was on the field before the game and spoke the first words at every Dodgers game -- "It's time for Dodger baseball" -- to a crowd that gave her a warm ovation.
"This has been really one of the most exciting things to ever happen in my life as a sports fan," she said. "This is me being a part of the 50th-year anniversary [of Dodger Stadium] with all the history."
Nevolo-Lewis donned more than 50 pink ribbons on her shirt in support of friends and friends of friends fighting breast cancer. Looking around the stadium and seeing the pink in the dugouts and on the players' uniforms made it that much more special for her.
"I love these days," Nevolo-Lewis said. "It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I can go out and talk about this to people and it's not hidden in a closet. It brings everything to light."
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.